The bill seeks to amend the Land Transport Act 1988 to protect motor vehicle users from unreasonable fees charged by some operators of immobilising devices such as wheel clamps.
The committee received 25 submissions and heard oral evidence form seven submitters.
The bill would regulate the maximum fee and operator could charge, make it an offence for an operator to charge more than that fee or to fail to remove the clamp or arrange for its removal. The offences would be enforceable by the Police.
The committee recommends clarifying the meaning of enforcement authority. As introduced new section 98C sets out the requirements on operators, however, the requirements would not apply to road controlling authorities who are able enforcement authorities under the Act. The exclusion is by reference to “road”. To clarify this, the Committee recommends including new paragraphs (a) and (b) in new section 98D (1). This would make it clear that the requirements would not apply to parking places controlled by enforcement authorities who can issue infringement notices for parking offences.
The committee recommends amending new section 98E to include new subsections (5) and (6). Subsection (5) would mean that an operator could not claim more than the prescribed amount of $100 in a dispute before the Disputes Tribunal. New subsection (6), however, states that subsection (5) would not affect any proceedings relating to damage to an immobilising device that was caused by its removal from a motor vehicle. Section 98D(5)(b) would protect a person in charge of a motor vehicle from civil or criminal liability for the removal of an immobilising device provided the removal caused as little damage to the device as reasonably possible. The intent of new subsection (6) is that an operator who claimed an amount for unnecessary or wilful damage to an immobilising device should not be limited by subsection (5).
The committee recommends including subsection (3) in proposed new section 98E. This would require reference to regulations, if any are made, when considering whether an operator had complied with new section 98D(3) (that an operator must be reasonably available to remove a device).
Many submitters commented that they thought signage requirements should also be regulated under the bill. The committee believes that regulating signage only for immobilising devices could disadvantage motorists, as the signage would not need to include information for other methods of enforcement for private parking. Future legislation could be brought to address this issue.